“Angel of goodness,” he exclaimed, clasping her hand, “it must be that supreme Love reigns over all the folly and madness of life, or to such a one as I, a gift so good and beautiful would never have been given!”
She pressed his hand for response, for her lips quivered and her heart was too full for words.
And now, through the ghastly light which magnified his size portentously and painted him with grotesque and terrible colors, the child reappeared, begrimed with smoke and wild with the transports of a power so vast and an accomplishment so wonderful.
The three figures stood in the bright illumination, fascinated by the spectacle. The flames, as if satisfied with destruction, had died down, and fifty great beds of glowing embers lay spread out before them, like a sort of terrestrial constellation.
The wind, which had been awakened and excited to madness as it rushed in from the great halls of the forest to fan the fires, now that it was no longer needed, ceased to blow and sank into silence and repose. Little birds, returning to their roosts, complained mournfully that their dreams had been disturbed, and a great owl from the top of a lofty elm hooted his rage.
It was Saturday night. The labors of the week were over. The time had come for them to return to the farm house. They turned away reluctantly, leaving nature to finish the work they had begun.
THE SUPREME TEST
“Not in the clamor
of the crowded street,
Not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng,
But in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.”
The emotions of the woodsman’s heart had been in the main cheerful and full of hope during the springtime and the summer; but when the autumn came, with its wailing winds, its dying vegetation, and falling leaves, new moods were superinduced in his sensitive soul.
It is impossible even for the good and innocent to behold this universal dissolution and decay without remembering that they themselves must pass through some such temporary experience. But upon those who carry guilty secrets in their hearts these impressions descend with crushing weight. David felt them to the full when at last the winter set in; when the days were shortened and he was compelled to forego his toil at an early hour and retire to his cabin! There he was confronted by all the problems and temptations of a soul battling with the animal nature and striving to emancipate the spirit from its thraldom.